When it comes to crop production, those who raise commodities, such as corn and soybeans do not always get a chance to meet end users – especially overseas consumers.
Creating a connection between the grower and the consumer was a major reason why a group of southwest Asian individuals were in Minnesota recently. The group, which was made up of people from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Myanmar, visited a number of locations in Minnesota, including a stop at Meadowland Farmers Cooperative in Lam-berton, as well as to the Steve Prokosch farm.
According to Timothy Loh, who is deputy director for the American Soybean Association international marketing group in southeast Asia, the group, which represented importers, marketers and end users, are regular customers of U.S. grown soybeans, with a demand for millions of metric tons of soybeans and soybean products every year.
As the Asian population continues to grow, that demand is only going to increase.
According to Wendi Wendt, regional communications specialist for the Minnesota Soy-bean Research and Promotion Council, the Asian economy is expected to grow by a rate of 5 percent each year for the next decade, and the need to feed those nations is going to require even more imported products from places like the United States.
“This group is very market minded,” said Wendt, adding they have been asking lots of questions during their visit in the U.S.
Soybeans imported by the Asian countries are typically used as a feed source for the livestock, especially poultry and swine, being raised in those nations.
“Minnesota is leading the way in exporting of soybeans to southeast Asia,” said Greg Olwig of the U.S. Soy-bean Export Council.
Olwig said many of the Asian trade mission members raised concerns about drought reports, and Olwig said they have heard time and time again there is going to be product to sell to them.
As a nation grows and its economy is strengthened, the consumption of protein from meat also rises, said Olwig, which is good news for soybean farmers who are raising that crop for import.
Those on the trade mission were given the chance at the Steve Prokosch farm to meet face to face with a soybean farmer and to walk in the fields and see the product they buy, sell and use at the ground level.
“Now when they go back to their desks and their jobs they are going to have a face to put with the product,” said Veronica Bruck-hoff, a leadership dev-elopment and membership manager for the soybean research and promotion council.